On December 3, a court in Antwerp, Belgium, held the second day of the high-profile trial of Assadollah Assadi, a Vienna-based Iranian diplomat. On July 1, 2018, European prosecutors detained Assadi for orchestrating a bomb plot against the Iranian opposition’s rally in a suburb of Paris.
According to evidence, the Iranian diplomat had personally transferred 1lb of explosive material TATP from Tehran to Vienna on a commercial flight. Afterward, he delivered the device to the operative team, including Amir Sadouni, 38, Nasimeh Naami, 35, and Mehrdad Arefani, 54, in Luxemburg. Assadi’s accomplices had Belgian citizenship.
On November 27, following the end of the first hearing—while Assadi as the first defendant was absent—Belgian prosecutors urged the court to sentence:
-Assadollah Assadi to 20 years in prison
-Amir Sadouni to 18 years in prison
-Nasimeh Naami to 18 years in prison
-Mehrdad Arefani to 15 years in prison
Given the misuse of their Belgian nationality to facilitate the bomb attack, the prosecutors called the court to revoke the Belgian citizenship of Sadouni, Naami, and Arefani.
The prosecutors also urged the court to confiscate the terrorists’ money and property because the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) had paid the money to the defendants to carry out the terror plot.
Assadi refused to attend the second hearing. According to the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif ordered Assadi not to participate in the court.
Reliable evidence and undeniable documents and details obtained from Assadi’s note and communication with the operative team left no doubt over his role in the crime.
On the other hand, Assadi’s absence encouraged his accomplices to lay all the blame on the Iranian diplomat. The attorneys for the defendants surprisingly highlighted Assadi’s role to evade their clients’ own responsibility.
The defendants claimed that Assadi had deceived them to carry out the plot while they have received over 150,000 euros in cash and credit. In their messages, traced by European authorities, the terrorists expected more rewards.
The attorneys for Naami and Sadouni also tried to downplay the role of their clients. They claimed that the defendants were unaware of the bomb’s capacity and they had believed that it would not harm anyone. Notably, during the defusing of the bomb, a police defuser robot was damaged and a police officer was wounded.
Despite contradictory claims raised by the defendants and their attorneys, the court once again highlighted the Iranian high-ranking officials’ involvement in the plot. The NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi, who was the main target based on evidence and prosecutors’ argument, pointed out the role of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Zarif, and Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi.
She also affirmed the imperative of shutting down all the Iranian government’s front centers and institutions that pave the path for terror plans under the banner of cultural or religious activities.
“It is now time for an international tribunal to be set up and to prosecute the leaders of the regime, who are the true masterminds of hundreds of terrorist acts around the world,” the NCRI delegation also announced.